August – Another amazing month

Posted – Sept 5, Saturday


My freezer is totally FULL!!

8/5 Wed.

A 2lb bag of sweet mini peppers, mostly full.

They are a bit wrinkled – does this mean they are not still good?

No! I freeze half ( add to soups come winter), will work on the rest for quite some time. 

They aren’t hot, but they are tasty. And being colorful is nice, too.

8/8 – Sat

It’s the ‘all in one bag’ thing, again.

• small carry out container of pico de gallo.

•8 oz grated Parmesan and romano cheese, pretty much full.

• 16 oz Herdez salsa. HOT! (1/4 full)

• 16 oz desert pepper corn and black bean salsa. ( 1/2 full)

• Hidden valley ranch dressing, not much left but hey good for at least one salad.

• 12 fl oz Parmesan ranch dressing, pretty much full.

• 3 beers! Poddington Pub Ale. Never heard of it, which makes no diff. Beer is beer – you don’t own it, you just rent it, right? 😉

• A couple of fistfuls of carry out condiments, mild and hot sauce, and parmesan cheese. I have a tub of these in my frig, it is now overflowing.

Not bad, and it is only saturday.

On Monday, after the weekend, trash *really* piles up… and doesn’t get emptied until wednesday at the earliest.

That’s ‘prime time’ for scavengers like me.

As long as i have mentioned refrigeration, 

(without which our world would be a whole different, wouldn’t it?) let’s take a look at that…

Read the full entry, here’s a few excerpts:

I quote:

“Preserving food dates back to the ancient Roman and Chinese empires. However, refrigeration technology has rapidly evolved in the last century, from ice harvesting to temperature-controlled rail cars. The introduction of refrigerated rail cars contributed to the westward expansion of the United States, allowing settlement in areas that were not on main transport channels such as rivers, harbors, or valley trails. Settlements were also popping up in infertile parts of the country, filled with new natural resources. These new settlement patterns sparked the building of large cities which are able to thrive in areas that were otherwise thought to be unsustainable, such as Houston, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada. In most developed countries, cities are heavily dependent upon refrigeration in supermarkets, in order to obtain their food for daily consumption. The increase in food sources has led to a larger concentration of agricultural sales coming from a smaller percentage of existing farms. Farms today have a much larger output per person in comparison to the late 1800s. This has resulted in new food sources available to entire populations, which has had a large impact on the nutrition of society.”

“A trip to the market before refrigeration became widespread would have been different from a trip today. In the late 19th Century and into the very early 20th Century, other than staple foods (sugar, rice, and beans), your diet was affected heavily by the seasons and what could be grown relatively close to your region. Today, thanks to refrigeration, we are no longer restricted by these limitations.”

I freeze a whole lot of what i find – without that? it would go to waste.


8/9 Sunday

Only one small thing amongst hot dog buns that are grey/blue moldy, sandwiches with un-sandwich like colors, etc… a teeny container with 3 pats of butter – sold!

On the way back in from Safeway, i check the trash by the elevator, it is 10:30 AM, and what awaits me but a styrofoam container (embossed w/ “hop’n’go”) w/ 1/2 of what appears to be a breakfast wrap. I can see eggs, cheese, tomato chunks, and i can smell bacon. At this hour of the day, this hasn’t been here long.

It’ll cover my breakfast tomorrow, no need to cook, just 30 seconds microwave time. 🙂

Once again fast food carry out seems to inspire waste. Someone didn’t finish it all in the car, walked from the parking lot, brought it to the elevator maybe taking another few bites along the way, and just tossed what was left.

Still at least 3 mo’ days to go before the dumpsters get emptied.

Didn’t find much though. Better luck next week.

8/13 Thursday.

Freshly emptied dumpsters, but at the bottom of 1 are two large (48 fl oz) bottles of cooking oil, partially full.

As i am wondering how i could possible retrieve even one, one of the building maintenance guys sees me peering into the dumpster, offers me his industrial tongs, they pick it up no sweat, he was happy to help, i am sure he’s aware of how much people waste. It’s canola oil, 48 fl oz, 2/3 full. dated for sometime in 2016. It’ll take me the rest of the year to finish it.

8/14 Fri

‘All in one bag’ once again.

• eggs – 9 of a dozen left,  dated for 8/7. I do the ‘float test’, they are still fine.

• Tomatillo yellow chili salsa 12 oz bottle, 2/3 full. Yummy! I now have 4 kinds of salsa in my fridge, all free.

• 11 oz jar of artisanal ( ‘Sir Kensington’ who ever he is/was) dijon mustard, pretty much full. 

• a small paper bag w/ 3 Roma tomatoes, about the size of a golf ball. One is totally wrinkle, hits the garbage but the other two are fine.

• Last and best of all, a plastic tupperware container of home made chili, with loads of extra goodies, much better than you could buy anywhere. I feel like like my mama had risen from her grave, and cooked it for me, really delicious. I freeze it in two portions, smaller containers.

I joked a few posts ago about writing a dumpster divers cook book… but it wouldn’t be so unusual.

Tonight’s dinner?

Pasta (thin linguine) – i actually bought that. 

All the rest? came from the dumpster.

Three cheese/tomato sauce, garlic powder, olive oil, one of the tomatoes mentioned above, sausage w/ garlic and artichoke bits, a bit of pesto alla genovese and some sweet pepper pieces for flavor. 

Eggplant coated w/ some pork chop coating mix fried in olive oil. Oh, a bit of onion for the pasta, i froze it, and like all veggies if it’s not blanched, it thaws to be mushy. But that’s OK, i would be using the onion as flavoring in something boiled and it would be mushy even if it was fresh.

8/15 Sat.

The maintenance guys are getting used to me, i approach the dumpster space, the space for all their tools is right beside it, the guy sees me, shows me a nice chair. It IS nice, but i got enough chairs already. 

He agrees, people throw out lots of perfectly good stuff.

So what’s in the dumpsters?

• 4 *big fat* tamales. still in corn husk wrappers, much fatter than the ones i found before.

Right to the freezer, lunch sometime. With some cheese and chili beans.

• Carry-out french fries container, still some left – perfect side dish for a lunch. 

Carry out = ‘easy come, easy go’ = lazy stupid americans.

• Plastic bag w/ 3 Roma tomatoes, 1 orange pepper. They need a little… uh.. ‘editing(mold)’… other wise they are fine. Obviously i wonder why whoever had them didn’t do the editing themselves, and use the rest.

Have you heard the old saying ‘don’t throw the baby out w/ the bath water?’

Yeah, that’s it.

• A huge bag of ‘Party Size Munchies – cheese mix’ a variety of doritos products, 15 oz, at least half full. *Whatsa matter witch you??*

You threw a party and no one came? And you are too dimwitted to take the left overs to the office, fill a bowl on your desk??

• Partially finished bag of 4 Mexican cheese mix – dated end of July.

So what? still good!

8/16 sunday

• broccoli cheese soup – 32 fl oz, mostly full – dated 22 sept 15.

• artichoke hummus 7 oz, 1/3 full, dated sept 2015.

• chopped walnuts, 2.3 oz bag, way out of date (2013), but WTF, some stuff is fine for a very long time, if vacuum wrapped..

• an artisanal (Brianna’s) Honey dijon dressing, 12 fl oz, 1/3 full.

• the real find today/here? – not one but two 32 oz packs of rotisserie seasoned chicken breast slices.

One goes right to the freezer, the other one I’ll work on, probably freeze half.

I just do NOT understand why people toss out perfectly good food.

I know that everyone in this apt complex has a refrigerator w/ a freezer.

8/19 Wed.

• (Another!) 8 oz bag of shredded mexican cheese mix (monterey jack, cheddar, asadero, & quesadilla) dated May21, 2015. It doesn’t indicate whether this is a ‘best by’ date or perhaps a production date…? At any rate, it passes the smell and taste tests. It’s great to sprinkle on those breakfast eggs, fried or scrambled.

• A bag of Tostitos tortilla chips, mostly full. Not as crunchy as they might be, but that doesn’t slow me down.

• A celery heart, some of which is brown, most is fine – it’s still got that crunch.

Ya know what? These kinds of finds are turning me into a constant ‘grazer’ at work – there’s always something out on my desk that I’m a-munching on. Chips, carrots, nuts.


Once again, my cup runneth over!

“Fire sale!!! someone is moving!!! it’s all gotta go!!

• Flounder fillets – 24 oz – 4 left, individually wrapped.

* 1 perfectly good apple.

• Bangkok peanut sauce – 2 jars – one unopened the other, 1/3 full.

• Kosher dill pickles, 1/2 jar. Yummy!

• Yellow corn tortillas, started at 30, now about a dozen, straight to the freezer, easy to pop off one at a time as wanted/needed.

• soy sauce – most of a 20 fl oz bottle. It has less sodium, and it’s well timed – my bottle of soy sauce was about drained.

• Gorton’s beer battered alaskan pollock sticks – 24 oz bag, 1/4 full. I remember catching pollock on the Maine coast, many decades ago. It’s not on anyone’s hot list, but is perfectly nutritious fish.

• Last but not least… a BIG ziploc container of chicken filets 1/4 full, nicely cooked and spiced, home made for sure!


• A big full bag (1 lb) of sugar snap peas – the pods have some discolorization on them, that doesn’t mean the peas aren’t good. C’mon people, get over cosmetics!

• a 5 oz pack of salad – spring mix, a bit out of date, but still not wilted. Summer is salad time, fer sure. And I have plenty of dressing choices, all for free.

• a whole baked chicken, someone has torn off some of the good parts, still plenty left. And i have several kinds of sauces – BBQ, and Thai peanut sauce.

• A big container of classic cole slaw, about 3 weeks out of date. So what? I give it the *smell&taste* test.

It passes. it’s a wee bit mushy, but WTF. My post burst appendix GI system is just fine w/ mushy, works for me.

And it takes me back to the kitchen w/ my mom and dad in Maine, making coleslaw from scratch.



Four apples, perfectly good. The little labels on them tell me two are from Chile, two from New Zealand. Which reminds me of another thing about food waste that i think i’ve mentioned before, but bears repeating. It’s not just the 20 cent apple that is wasted, it’s everything that goes into producing, harvesting, shipping and distribution so that you can reach for it in a San Rafael California grocery store. Chile and New Zealand are a long way away, aren’t they?


Coming back into the apt complex, I pass a section of the building that has four small pipes coming out of the ground, turning 90 degrees, going into the building. What is resting on the horizontal sections but a huge chocolate cake, 6 lbs worth, 38$ retail.

All I can think is “why?”.

Later in day after a dip in the hot tub/spa thing, i check the dumpsters again.


Here’s the list:

Soy sauce

oyster sauce


chocolate syrup

maple syrup

chunky salsa, medium

peanut and almond butter

chicken breasts,  9 lb, 29 $ worth

pot stickers, just a few left from a large bag

apricots, peaches and lemons

ground turkey, 1 lb

salmon fillets, 1 lb

ketchup – 2lb 6 oz, half full

scallions/green onions, 1 ‘bunch’ – a little brown on the outside, doesn’t mean shit, peel it off. 

These add some zest to most anything vegetable or meat.

2 big large yellow onions.

A few words about labeling?

The ‘Maple syrup’ has a nicely designed banner on the label – ‘no high fructose corn syrup’.

What is in the list of ingredients in small print on the back?

Corn syrup ( i guess it’s just not ‘high fructose’ is it??), water, sugar and 2% or less of other various things.

There is NO mention of maple (unless that’s part of ‘natural and artificial flavors’).

I was born in Vermont ( ground zero for REAL maple syrup) grew up in Maine and NH, remember my mom taking us kids to a place that made REAL maple syrup, in the spring – they tapped the the trees, boiled it up, and you could make a snowball and have it soaked in the real thing, and knosh on it. Totally yummy. The real deal. 

This ‘Maple syrup’ product just isn’t what the label tells you.

I will keep it, and use it on the waffles i found, but every time i use it, i will remember the *real deal*. And my mom. And the snowballs.

Links of interest accumulated this month:

RE: lazy stupid americans:

The graphic details some areas of confusion about the food labels. (Image via NRDC Issue Brief/Harvard Food Policy Initiative)


I’ll be back in a month  – I am sure my neighbors will be no less wasteful!



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